Respect for just revenge

The paper considers acts of private (in the sense of individually motivated and extra-legal) revenge, and draws attention to a special kind of judgement we may make of such acts. While endorsing the general view that an act of private revenge must be morally wrong, it maintains that under certain special conditions (which include its being just) it is susceptible of a rational respect from others which is based on its standing outside morality, as a choice by the revenger not to act morally but to obey other compelling motives. This thesis is tested against various objections, notably those which doubt the intelligibility or application of such non-moral respect, or would assimilate it to moral approval; and it is distinguished from various positions with which it might be confused, such as the 'admirable immorality' of Slote, or the Nietzschean critique of morality.
Keywords revenge  morality  immorality  blameworthiness  virtue  respect  retribution  justice  reciprocity
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2008.00198.x
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